As a general rule, I don’t really like or use the phrase “Ireland is full”. But, at the same time, “Ireland has reached it’s maximum present capacity to provide a roof and shelter for people” is much less snappy, so I understand why many people use shorthand.
Or, in Roderic O’Gorman’s case, longhand:
The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has said it is likely that the State will not be able to provide accommodation to newly arriving international protection applicants in the coming days.
When this happened in September and again in October it results in international protection applicants being left homeless for a number of days.
Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Roderic O’Gorman said it was likely that the situation will persist for “longer period of time” on this occasion.
He said efforts would continue to offer accommodation to the most vulnerable, mainly women and children and people with disabilities.
Others, he said, would be provided with food vouchers and would be contacted when accommodation becomes available.
Let’s get right to the core point here: If the state cannot accommodate people, then it intends simply to hand them food vouchers, and contact them later. What are they to do in the interim? The only obvious answer to that is that they must find somewhere to sleep in the meantime – whether that be a tent somewhere, or a doorway, or the charity of some kind soul with a spare bed.
Objectively, the state is expressing, through the Minister, that it would rather bring people here and have them sleep on the streets than turn them away and tell them to seek aid from the French, or the Italians, or one of the legions of other EU countries not presently experiencing Ireland’s accommodation crisis.
The only policy, it seems, which the Irish State will not consider is the most obvious policy: Limits on the numbers of people the state will permit to enter its territory.
This is not some radical policy idea, either: It is the present policy of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Israel, and Norway, to name just a few countries with broadly similar demographics and politics. Three of those four countries are presently governed by left of centre governments, so it is also not the situation that controls on migration is some kind of right-wing extremist idea, whatever the Irish Times might say.
What’s more, the policy of the Irish State is not simply to accept anyone who comes. That would be bad enough, but it’s actually worse than that: The state is actively encouraging more people to come here. How else is one to take recent Ministerial declarations that “climate refugees” are welcome, or that every Ukrainian who wishes should be able, once they are here, to apply for permanent residency?
The latter declaration, made this week, is particularly irresponsible, because it encourages Ukrainians currently benefitting from refuge in other EU countries – and at no risk of Russian bombs – to leave their present shelter and make their way to Ireland. They may be expected to leave Poland, some day, but they will not, per the Irish Government, be expected to leave Ireland. As such, we may well see people coming here fleeing no war at all, from safe countries.
That this is all provoking public anger and disquiet is not, in the least, surprising. It is, after all, the literal prioritisation of the needs of foreigners over the needs of Irish citizens. That is a sentence that, if uttered in the wrong kind of working class accent, gets you called far right. The problem for the Irish establishment is, though, that the sentence is true, and obviously so. When you say that housing will ultimately be found for anyone who comes to Ireland as a migrant or refugee, but cannot or will not say the same for Irish homeless people, it is self-evidently true that one group is being prioritised over the other.
We often talk – or more accurately, hear talk – about the rise of “extremism” in Ireland. Objectively, the extremism is coming from our own Government. It is an extreme policy to announce that literally anyone who arrives on our shores claiming asylum will be granted their own home. And yet, that is the policy of the Irish State.
Since that policy was announced, the numbers of people coming here has exploded. Now we do not have places for them to stay. None of this is surprising. All of it is due to an extreme, and unworkable, policy implemented from the top.
If opposing that policy makes one far right, then expect the growth of the far right to continue. When even a Government Minister is saying Ireland is Full, don’t be surprised to hear protestors chanting it